Plagiarism and the Net
Plagiarism is becoming an escalating problem in publishing in general and for student use in particular. The question thus arises as to whether the use of the internet is worth a bean ? I should like to see the notion of a total ban of the use of the internet by students.
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Plagurism is an escalating problem in education.
The problem can be alleviated by banning the use of the internet by students in written work.
Not necessarily. Yes, plagiarism is and has probably always been endemic (although more noticeable now that technology - particularly using the internet! - has been able to catch students out): to give and example, 49% of Cambridge students surveyed by a student paper admitted to having committed some form of plagiarism during their course [Varsity, http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/1058/1/ ]]. Each of these students would have signed a form promising not to plagiarise (this I know from experience!) during their time at University. By this token, there is no way that a ban on the use of the internet by students in written work could alleviate the problem, even if it was scrutinised in the same way. Furthermore, such a ban would inevitably create its own plagiarism: students would continue to use internet sources but since they were not allowed, would plagiarise the information rather than credit it properly.
A main problem with internet plagiarism is that students feel sources are not credible enough, such as citing Wikipedia in an essay, and so are likely to plagiarise rather than admit a discredited source. This is in spite of findings by nature magazine Nature Magazine, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html ]] that wikipedia may have a lower error ratio compared with Encyclopedia Britannica. Banning the use of the internet is not a solution.
- As a meta-argument, this counter-argument employs internet sources, whilst the proposing argument does not. Which do you believe is the more credible?
The internet provides unverifiable information.
There is no publishing house imprimatur or its equivalent as in book publishing to validate or authenticate the scholarly worth of an item.
Reputable scholarly articles published online are peer reviewed to the same standard as published articles. By favouring one medium over another we risk deifying the format: Herrnstein and Murray's 'The Bell Curve' is one instance of a published work which many have argued is invalid and refutable, whilst the Bible and Qu'ran will always have their proponents and critics regardless of the format through which they are received - aural, written or online.
The internet is not permanent.
Without being able to provide substantive i.e. permanent, information or scholarly opinion citations have a shelflife unlike paper publications.
Certain elements of the internet are permanent, such as news sites, online journal sites, etc, just as various elements of written material such as memos, diaries, etc are impermanent. The problem is a matter of discrimination rather than of the medium per se, whilst it is surely better to experience these fleeting moments of history than leave them condemned to an eternity in the waste paper basket?
The internet provides information and data otherwise unavailable to students.
Search engines provide the facility to search-out on a worldwide basis vitually any topic imaginable.
The internet provides the opportunity for feedback between enquirer and information provider generally unavailable with other types of publication sources.
Exchange of information and seeking of clarification of internet published matter is possible and can initiate entirely new avenues of research otherwise impossible in the world of paper publishing.
Internet information can be fresh and totally up-to-date.
The long delays involved in paper publishing often means material is out-of-date by the time it reaches the presses. With the internet publication is instantaneous.
Fresh, up-to-date, and often, wrong. To use the media coverage of the recent tragic death of singer Michael Jackson as an example, numerous sources report other celebrity death 'hoaxes' expounded amongst bloggers [http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/832437/celebrity-hoaxes-continue-after-jackson-death]] whilst it becomes difficult to separate the fact from the fiction. Certain reputable sources are able to escape this tendency but the line is becoming increasingly blurred.
Computer Aided Content Analysis
Included is a link to an example of the benefits of computer-aided content analysis. [http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/socio/kuechler/341/f95/caho.html]] The findings that can be achieved using this method allow previously unimaginable forms of quantitative analysis to be applied to texts. This is largely due to internet technology, which has the potential to enhance forms of scholarship
What do you think?